Ten great women from Sibiu


The wheel of Sibiu's history has been spun by important personalities. Due to the circumstances, the collective memory mostly remembers the great men of the city, so today let us speak about the Great Sibian women. There are certainly more than ten, but we are waiting your suggestions to complete the list together:

1. Affra von Salzburg (Vízaknai) (15th Century) the wife of Thomas Altembreger

Affra was born in a noble family from Ocna Sibiului, and she married Emericus of Bogath. After she became a widow, she married Thomas Altemberger, the royal judge of the city.
Once married, they started the construction of one of the most beautiful Gothic houses in Sibiu, known today as the History Museum - the Altemberger House. Her coat of arms - an arm with a sword coming out of a crown, is visible in the keystone of the vaulted loggia in the Martyrs' Garden.

The Altemberger House: the Museum of History

2. Johanna Balk (17th Century) - daughter of Count Daniel Melmer

Sometimes, love stories have a sad ending, so each time you walk on Samuel von Brukenthal Street, remember that a young lady once lived there, and that she committed suicide. Johanna Balk, daughter of Count Daniel Melmer, married the town pharmacist (Wilhelm). After her husband died, she was forced to become Prince Bathory's mistress, but she preferred to take her own life by piercing her heart with the needle of her brooch, to remain forever faithful to her husband.

3. Sophia Katharina von Brukenthal (1725 - 1782) – Baron Brukenthal's wife

She was the daughter of provincial mayor Daniel Klokner von Kloknern, and in 1745 she married Baron Samuel von Brukenthal. Although historians consider it a marriage of interest, the Baroness has supported her husband in all his pursuits. Being an independent woman for that time, she commissioned and negotiated various works of art, paid bills and supervised the household.
The coat of arms of her family is visible on the entrance portal to the Brukenthal palace, together with the one of her husband.

Brukenthal National Museum

4. Rachel Bethlen - (18th century) – the widow of Lt. Col. Count Gregorius Bethlen

Rahel Bethlen was the one who dreamed the House with Caryatids, turning it into a small baroque palace in the eighteenth century. She bought the property, which once belonged to the renowned goldsmith Sebastian Hann, with 7000 Hungarian florins. Rahel probably ordered the two stone virgins from Simon Hoffmayer, a famous sculptor from Cluj. Also worth noting is the oak gate decorated with baroque motifs.

The House with Caryatids –The “Little Palace” or the “Bethlen Palace”

5. Kamilla Asbóth (1838- 1908) – the first woman photographer in Romania

Kamilla was born in Budapest on February 9, 1838. After the death of her uncle Theodor Glatz, she inherited his photography studio. The workshop operated in the Great Square, at Number 9. She immortalized family portraits, but also landscapes. The portraits of young women dressed in traditional Saxon or Romanian clothes are among her most famous photos. Afterwards, the renowned photographer Emil Fischer purchased and operated the studio in the same location.

6. Silvia Stein von Spiess (1901-1993) - The first woman ornithologist

She is considered the first female ornithologist from Transylvania and the Romanian territory.
Silvia acquired her knowledge of animals and especially birds from her father, August von Spiess, the spiritual patron of the Museum of Hunting in Sibiu. Since her youth, she took part in hunting trips and wildlife research projects. She specialized in birds of prey, holding lectures at international conferences. After the war, she worked at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Sibiu.

The ”August von Spiess” Museum of Hunting

7. Julianna Fabritius Dancu (1930 - 1986) - artist and writer

Painter, ethnographer, art historian, writer, publicist and graphic designer, Julianna Fabritius Dancu is known mainly because of the over 100 paintings of the fortified churches around Sibiu and Brașov. In her youth, she studied in Bucharest, where she was sentenced to two years in prison for espionage. After her release, she returned to Sibiu, becoming an illustrator at the Brukenthal Museum.
Her most important work remains "Memories from the old Sibiu".

8. Dorina Stanca (1927 - 2019) - actress, Radu Stanca's wife

"You are, from now on, my most intimate meaning. You are my true reason, my deification. And I'm calling you. Because I want you to complete me; I’m calling you, I’m calling you relentlessly, you, my light, my life, my fulfillment.” That was how Radu Stanca addressed his beautiful wife Doti in one of his countless love letters. Although fate has reserved for them many obstacles, the words of the stage director enthrall us even today.

9. Melita Ruhn (1965) - gymnast

Born in Sibiu on April 19, 1965, Melita Ruhn remained in the history of gymnastics due to her perfect floor exercise at the 20th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships held in Fort Worth, in 1979. She is one of the few gymnasts to score a perfect 10. In 1980, together with the team, she brought home a silver and two bronze medals from the Moscow Olympics. She is currently a physical education teacher at a school in Munich.

10. Lia Perjovski (1961) - artist, founder and coordinator of the Contemporary Art Archive and the Center for Art Analysis (CAA / CAA).

The Contemporary Art Archive / the Center for Art Analysis (CAA / CAA) is an informal institution, an interdisciplinary and educational project initiated by Lia Perjovski.
“The journey of her artistic practice, starting from her physical body (performances in the 1980s and 1990s) to the body of knowledge (AAC / CAA, Knowledge Museum) describes a personal scenario in the search for meaning and normality – a space for post-production and dialogue, for rethinking and recycling information, as well as for structuring of ideas." - https://institutulprezentului.ro/ writes about her.

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